Daily news summary News

08-08-2004

President Klaus criticises government, opposition, choice of Euro Commissioner

President Vaclav Klaus has criticised as "toothless" the policies outlined in the coalition agreement between the three parties in the new government. Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Mr Klaus said the agreement was vague and did not make the government's top policy priorities clear.

The President also took the opportunity to take a swipe at the opposition Civic Democrats, saying they should have reacted to the new government more quickly. Mr Klaus said the party, of which he is honorary chairman, should be more concerned with the present than possible future developments.

On the issue of former prime minister Vladimir Spidla being chosen as the Czech Republic's next European commissioner, President Klaus was highly critical, saying it was a "con" and a "mistake". Mr Spidla was given the job ahead of Pavel Telicka, the man he himself had chosen to represent the country on the European Commission. The former prime minister will take over from Mr Telicka in November.

President considering pardon for 1968 collaborator Hoffmann

And the President said he was considering granting a pardon to Karel Hoffmann, who is due to start a four-year jail term on Monday, after being found guilty of disrupting Czech Radio broadcasts during the Soviet-led invasion of 1968. Mr Klaus said he had not yet reached a decision on whether to pardon the former Communist Party official, who is elderly and in poor health.

Hope fading for mountaineers in Kyrgyzstan

Hope was fading on Sunday for any remaining mountaineers - many of them believed to be Czechs - trapped by avalanches high on a mountainside in Kyrgyzstan, a local official said. Five Czechs and one Russian were confirmed killed on Thursday after avalanches on the 7,000-metre Khan-Tengri peak.

Meanwhile a Czech climber has fallen to his death in the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, a mountain rescue worker said on Sunday. Ten Czech mountaineers have died in the Tatras this year.

Transport Ministry: work on fast rail system could begin in 20 years

A fast rail system capable of supporting 300-kilometre-an-hour trains could be begun within 20 years, a spokesperson for the Transport Ministry told the Czech Press Agency. The 700-kilometre system would be built from scratch and would not make use of the Czech Republic's existing rail corridors, which were created between 1839 and 1872.

Weather

The sunny weather we've been having here in the Czech Republic is due to continue on Monday, though there is a chance of rain or storms in places. Temperatures will range from 25 to 29 degrees Celsius.

08-08-2004